Posted by: Gina | 2009/03/09

How do I now get 5yr to sleep alone?

Hi Doc,

Doc, when we are having a meal together and my daughter decides she wants to play or wants to be fed, my husband gets very upset when I tell her that she must eat her food by herself. We go through this constantly. I ask her to do little things for herself, which she should be doing and he will insist that she is a child and as her mother I should be doing it. He is tiring me out.

Doc, on another note, how do I get her to start sleeping in her room? She has never ever feared the dark, but for the past 2 weeks she won' t be left alone as she says there may be monsters around. She sometimes gets up at night and comes to the living room to find us. She has started school this year and I am thinking that maybe this fear stems from stories that her friends may be telling her. I know kids and stories.

Doc, my daughter is pretty manipulative and very often plays her dad &  I against each other. I am envisioning great drama when I try to make her sleep on her own.

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Our expert says:
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Check the archives of this forum, as we've discussed this particular problem many times previously --- and also post this query on the Parenting forum, to hear from more other parents who have faced something similar. If a 5 year-old isn't already sleeping alone, then something has been going not quite right for rather a long time. A central problem, from the sound of it, is that you and your husband are singing from different hymn sheets. All children are manipulative, especially when encouraged. Its easy to ensure that it is impossible for her to divide and rule, or to pla you off against each other. There needs to be a shared code of conduct for her, with defined penalties for not keeping to the rules and advantages for keeping to them. The situation has probably become rather complex by now --- best if the pair o you see a good local child psychologist to sort out your new system ( as the problems are far more than simply where she sleeps ) and to help you implement it.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Maria | 2009/03/09

Would it perhaps be possible to get your daughter' s teacher involved? Maybe she could send a letter home about what one should expect from a five year old. This could include:
- dressing herself
- feeding herself
- putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket
- setting the table with cutlery
- helping to unpack and put away groceries
- sleeping in her own room

All of those are quite realistic expectations, and perhaps your husband will be more receptive if he hears it from someone other than you.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Maria | 2009/03/09

The most important thing is for you and your husband to present a united front to your daughter. If you can do that then half the battle is won. If you can' t you' re setting her up for lots of difficulties later in life, explain that to your husband.

Let her watch Monsters inc. Then tell her that from next Friday night she will be sleeping in her own room. Explain that she is a big girl now, and that mommy and daddy are entitled to some privacy in their own room. Take her shopping for a duvet cover, nightlight, anything she wants to decorate her room with. Let her play in her room so that she feels it is her space. Then on the Friday morning, move her bed into the room. Friday night put her to bed there and tell her she must stay. Every time she gets ouf of bed, put her back. Stick to your guns. Don' t give in to crying and screaming, it' s bound to be a noisy business for a couple of nights. If she worries about monsters, take a torch and search for the monsters. Let daddy search and reassure her. DO NOT GIVE IN AND LET HER SLEEP IN YOUR ROOM. If you are persistently calm and polite about it she will eventually give up and stay in her room.

Make sure you have a routine, e.g. supper, bath, bedtime story, then mommy and daddy leaves. Don' t lie with her till she sleeps, she has to learn to put herself to sleep.

Soothing music may help, I have two CD' s called something like " Mozart effect"  which my daughter associates with sleeping.

Good luck!

Reply to Maria

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